Far greater levels of investment in research and innovation are required if the UK is to successfully deliver its Industrial Strategy, experts have said.
Drax power station boss Andy Koss and Dr Tina Conkar, strategic relationships manager at Leeds Beckett University, told delegates at the latest Innovation Network event that just one per cent of GDP currently goes into creative processes and that this needed to rise dramatically to meet the nation’s commercial needs.
Delegates at the event also heard how regionally-driven solutions were the key to solving the North’s challenges and that the increasingly co-ordinated message coming out of the region’s decision makers was beginning to have an impact.
Dr Conker told guests at The Yorkshire Post’s Parkinson Suite: “One of the main issues with the UK is that it has an embarrassingly low spend on research and development.
“It has been driven very slowly in the UK compared to other European countries.
“Roughly one per cent of GDP is spent on R&D at the moment. The Industrial Strategy indicated that significant amount of money needed to be spent addressing that issue.”
Mr Koss agreed with this assessment saying: “As a country we invest very little into research and innovation. It is absolutely critical for the future of our country given the scale of technological change and how fast things are moving we must invest.”
Mr Koss added that how we educate our whole population, not just young people would also be key in driving the economy forward in the future.
“Education is absolutely critical,” he said.
“And I think we should be investing right the way across the life-cycle, all the way through early-learning to mid to late-careers.
“The days of a job for life are fast disappearing. We need to be thinking about people who have very good skills that might not be applicable to the industry that they are involved in.
“We need to change that.”
Mr Koss also sounded an optimistic note concerning the future prospects for UK industry and that the North was best-placed to deliver its own prosperity if backed with greater decision-making power.
“My experience of Government is that if you go in and just have a whinge and say we need more money that they are not very receptive. But if you go ion showing you are ready to help solve their challenges that always goes down much better.
“Regionally driven solutions I believe are the future. A coordinated view across the north, which has not always been there, we are now starting to see. Education and transport we are making a real impact because we have a coordinated message. Clearly finance is a key area but we know what need to do now, we just need to be allowed to get on with it.”